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Lazaridis School of Business and Economics


Next Generation Ideas, being the theme for the Fourth Annual World Class Supply Chain Summit, reflected summit’s focus on understanding what is becoming and what will continue to be of increasingly of high priority for current and future supply chain professionals. The summit, which was held on May 8th, 2019 in Milton, Ontario, brought together invited executives, scholars, and students to present and carefully examine a range of emerging ideas that are worthy of the supply chain community’s interest. The diversity of such ideas (e.g., new technologies, geopolitical developments, and the role of supply chain analytics) necessitated a diverse range of perspectives for structuring the summit deliberations. This was done through a summit program comprising three presentations to feature the following perspectives:

  1. Perspectives of a vastly experienced industry executive perspective who has amassed an extensive body of material on ecological considerations in supply chains
  2. Perspectives of an economist with evidence-based understanding of how decisions by national governments impact firms with both domestic and transnational supply chains
  3. Perspectives of a supply chain scholar whose research projects are strongly motivated by how companies have had (and will have) to rethink their distribution networks

From the formal presentations and the question and answer component for each presentation, the essence of the insights could be summarized by this notion:

While firms must still exemplify traditional supply chain fundamentals (trusted partners, robust IT infrastructure, etc.), they face the additional and an increasingly pressing imperative of needing the agility to be responsive to changes, especially from customers and competitors.

Arguably, this is not an original statement because one can make a convincing case that dynamic change has always been a feature of the business landscape. Rather than originality, the statement is meant to underscore that, at this time in the development of the supply chain field, practitioners seem to be experiencing a very distinct level of bewilderment about the array of changes to be contemplated. The summit not only brought that bewilderment to the fore, it also:

  • facilitated discussion of the opportunities resulting from the changes
  • presented real-world examples of innovative and entrepreneurial responses to the changes
  • addressed the interests and concerns of students - the next generation of supply chain professionals

This white paper reports on (1) the substantive specifics of those elements of the summit and (2) issues requiring further study in order to be understood more clearly.